Claressa Shields has a message for detractors, and naturally it packs a punch.
“I know many people don’t understand my tenacity, my mean streak, my anger. But it’s not for you to understand,” the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Flint writes in an impassioned open letter. “Accept me as I am. Accept me as I change and the world around me changes.”
The blunt talk, she says at the start, is for “the people who misunderstand me and the people who understand and celebrate me.” It’s posted at The Undefeated, an ESPN-affiliated site covering “the intersections of race, sports and culture.”
Shields, 23, won the women’s middleweight division at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics — the first American of either gender to earn consecutive Olympic medals in boxing. She’s currently the world champion female middleweight boxer and lives in Boynton Beach, Fla.
Excerpts from this week’s post:
I am fighting more than one fight. . . . Being a leader is always hard. Sometimes you wish you could hand someone your job, but deep down inside, you know that to get something done the right way, you should do it yourself. . . .
I chose to write this letter because I wanted to explain to everyone that the world is changing. (LeBron is the new GOAT! I am the new GWOAT!)
Accept the world as the old make way and allow the new to come in. Open your eyes a little wider, and really be mindful that sports have no gender.
My definition of a strong woman is a woman with big, in-shape muscles, [who] is strong-minded and has a beautiful smile and a voice so loud that she can never be silent in a room of inequality.
The world is changing. Accept me and accept us! This is the year of the overcomer.
This four-minute video was taped after she beat Hanna Gabriels of Costa Rica in a 3-0 judges’ decision June 22 at Detroit’s Masonic Temple: